National Geographic : 1926 Sep
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE Photograph by Dr. II . D. Girdwood, © Realistic Travels RUSSIAN PRIESTS BLESSING THE RIVER JORDAN Each year thousands of pilgrims from Russia journey to Jerusalem for the religious cere monies. Each tries to carry back with him a bottle of water from the Jordan, a bit of palm leaf, or a flaming candle from the Holy Fire ceremony at Jerusalem. of 1,500 feet on the west and 2,500 feet on the east. Beyond this line of beetling precipices, on the eastern side, towers the Moabite escarpment, an array of rocky peaks from 3,000 to nearly 6,000 feet high, naked, arid, and majestic. LEVEL Of DEAD SEA WAS ONCE 1,200 FEET HIGHER Our glide down from Jerusalem has brought us over the northern shore, where the turbid Jordan enters the sea through an extensive muddy flat which is strewn with flotsam brought down by the river mostly rotting tree trunks incrusted with salt and dead branches gray with salt de posit. From above, this dreary waste of mud looks as if it were strewn with the moldering skeletons of strange prehistoric beasts. Looking northward across this flat, we see the great canyon through which the Jordan winds in tortuous curves among dense reed beds and thickets of tamarisk and oleander. The lofty escarpments on each side of the river are formed of marl, chalk, and limestone. They descend to the river's bed in a series of terraces and rugged steep-sided gorges. Their general color, which is a creamy white, gives the wild landscape a peculiarly bizarre-one might almost say weird-appearance. Turning our backs on this scene, we fly southward along the eastern shore of the 350'